Sound sleep: Soundcore Sleep A20 review

Silence the snores

from Anker Soundcore
RRP  £119.99
Sleeping soundly: Soundcore Sleep A20 review

by Kyle Purves |
Updated on

If you've ever struggled to get to sleep because of noise, whether it's from inside the house or outside, you may want to invest in a pair of quality earphones. Sure, earbuds can block noise, but the Soundcore Sleep A20 is here as a way to soothe yourself to sleep with music and to drown out unwanted background noise.

Soundcore is no stranger to the world of in-ear headphones, but the Sleep A20 is a departure from the norm. The usual traits are here, from steady Bluetooth connection to impressive noise cancellation, but as the name suggests, this pair is designed for sleep. The Sleep A20 is intended for side-sleepers and those who like white noise and music to help them sleep.

Ear plugs are one thing, but sleeping with earbuds in may seem strange to many. So is the Sleep A20 worth your money? Does it really help you get better sleep? And how do they perform as standard earbuds? We're here to investigate, as we've had one of our testers use the Sleep A20 and talk about their findings.

Kyle Purves is one of our resident tech experts and is no stranger to testing audio equipment. They've experimented with plenty of Soundcore's speakers in the past, as well as a handful of its headphones. Using our usual testing methods, they've developed a deep understanding of Sleep A20 and are ready to share their findings.

The quick version

The Sleep A20 won't be for everyone, and how much it helps you sleep will vary, but it is nevertheless a great pair of earbuds. The sound quality meets the standard of other Souncore designs, and the noise-cancellation is superb. The battery life could be a bit better, but it's only a minor concern. The inclusion of various different ear tip shapes is fantastic, and the touch controls are very impressive in how natural they feel to use.

Our consensus is that the Sleep A20 is most effective as a pair of travel earbuds, especially if you want to catch some sleep on a long journey.

Soundcore Sleep A20Soundcore
Price: $119.99

Pros

  • Great selection of interchangeable buds included
  • Fit flush to ears so side sleepers can still use them comfortably
  • Effective noise cancelling
  • Compact size makes them ideal for travel
  • Very reliable connection

Cons

  • So-so battery life without case
  • May struggle to fit the perfect fit
  • Sound
    4.5
  • Build
    4.0
  • Battery
    4.0
  • Value
    4.5
Frequency range20Hz - 20kHz
BatteryApprox. 10 hours with use, up to 80 hours with charging case
Charging timeApprox. 2 hours
ConnectionBluetooth 5.3
Noise cancellation4-Point Noise Masking System, Passive Noise Blocking twin-seal ear tips
WaterproofingIPX4

The experience

Sleep A20 2 INLINE IMAGE
©Kyle Purves, What's The Best

To begin with, it's worth noting that I'm not usually someone who uses white noise or soft music to get to sleep, so it should come as no surprise that it took me a while to get used to the Sleep A20. Even now, I think I sleep better without them than with them, but I'm willing to attribute that to myself and not the actual earbuds. After all, even if they're not exactly my style, I'm impressed enough by them to believe that they would be excellent in the right hands (or ears).

On the technical side, the Sleep A20 is excellent, especially with its noise-cancelling design. Although it's not active cancellation, the four-point system makes it feel as though more sound is being blocked out. I'm usually quite alert to the creaks of floorboards and whoever is snoring in my house, but the A20 had no trouble blocking those sounds and allowing me to enjoy the soothing playlist I had set.

Speaking of which, let's talk about audio performance. As expected of an Anker Soundcore product, these earbuds sound fantastic. The frequency range is comparable to many speakers, so you get a fulfilling sound profile that suits a range of music genres. I wouldn't listen to many bass-heavy tracks when trying to sleep, but thanks to this versatility, I was quite happy to use the Sleep A20 throughout the day as well. The Bluetooth 5.3 doesn't suffer any noticeable clarity drops, proving to be reliable throughout my testing.

Battery life is an interesting topic for the Sleep A20. For any ordinary pair of earbuds, I would be plenty happy with around 10 to 14 hours off a single charge. But keep in mind these are designed for sleep. You don't need me to point out that we should all aim for eight hours of rest a night, even if that's not always easy. On the other hand, some will happily sleep for 10 hours at a time. When considering that, suddenly, a 10-hour playtime doesn't sound so impressive. To be fair, it's not as though the possibility of the earbuds running out of charge mid-slumber is a major issue. After all, the main purpose is to help you get to sleep. But waking up to almost flat earbuds in the morning is a repeated annoyance. I would charge them in time before going to sleep again, and the charge time makes that easy, but if you want to use them during the day as normal buds like I often did, it meant needing to take action right after waking up.

In the long run, I don't see myself using the Sleep A20 every night. I found that I tended to sleep better without them and that my ears preferred to be free most of the time. Still, the performance as standard earbuds was a pleasant surprise, so I see myself using them more during the day. I often struggle to nap, but I was able to do so with this pair, and in the future, I see myself getting a lot of use out of them for long bouts of travel. In short, the Sleep A20 didn't improve my standard sleeping arrangements, but I think they're a great asset to have when conditions aren't ideal.

The build

Sleep A20 1 INLINE IMAGE
©Kyle Purves, What's The Best

One of my favourite aspects of this pair of buds is the array of exchangeable bud shapes it comes with. I had expected it to only have one or two tip shapes, but alongside the ones it initially has equipped, you get nine different pairs. There are ear wings in small and large sizes, sealed ear tips in large, small, and extra-small sizes, and the same sizes for breathable ear tips. While the default wing tip wasn't my style, I quite liked the large, non-noise-cancelling, breathable buds.

Inside the box are a couple of other handy things besides the buds and tips. There's a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging, and although it is quite short, it's still a nice addition. A brief set of instructions for changing the tips and a user guide for setting it up are included.

Another impressive feature is the touch controls. At first, I thought it was a strange inclusion for a product aimed at side sleepers, and I thought that they would surely be accidentally activated all the time. Yet, in all of my testing, the controls never once misbehaved. In fact, I found them to be much more reliable and convenient than any other set of earphones I've used. Two taps on the right bud will pause or play, three taps will turn the volume up, and three taps on the left bud will turn the volume down. It's intuitive and means you never have to fumble around for your phone in the dark to adjust your music.

In terms of comfort and fit, the Sleep A20 has made that a priority. The material is soft and never aggravates my ears. Even when a fit feels loose, they seem never to fall out or even noticeably budge, so I was able to rest with the peace of mind that I wouldn't need to hunt for them in the morning. In most cases, I prefer over-ear headphones rather than in-ear designs, but the consistent reliability of the Sleep A20 meant I would often wear them instead.

The case with buds inside is definitely small enough to fit in your pocket, making it an instant lock-in for travel. Sleeping in unfamiliar hotel beds can be uncomfortable and even difficult at times, so I can see myself appreciating the Sleep A20 when travelling frequently. I often struggle to sleep on planes, but I reckon these could help fix that.

Any drawbacks?

Sleep A20 3 INLINE IMAGE
©Kyle Purves, What's The Best

Despite my praise for the included selection of buds, I never really found my ideal size among them. Perhaps I'm a bit of a Goldilocks when it comes to earbud shapes, but each one was either too small, too loose, or too deep. This is, of course, an issue that could just affect me, and you may not have any difficulty finding your perfect pair immediately.

It's also worth noting that the wingtip-shaped buds alongside the twin seal ended up being a bit too much noise cancellation for me. While I greatly appreciate the addition of this feature, the non-breathable tips made me feel as though I was sealing my ears off completely. I'm sure that level of noise cancellation sounds wonderful if you need to drown out a snoring partner, but for me, I could just feel the pressure around my ears and my own blood flow.

Price and competition

At just shy of £120, the Sleep A20 are not exactly a budget set of earphones. Even so, they're comparable to many other great earbuds, so it's easy to accept the price for the added sleep focus.

If you're curious about what else Anker offers or what else you can get around this price point, you may want to consider the following earphones:

Anker alternative

Soundcore Liberty 4 NCAnker Soundcore
Price: $99.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$99.99View offer

If you like the sound of Soundcore earbuds, you may want to consider the Liberty 4 NC. I've previously tested it and continue to love using it to this day. It's not as good an option for sleep, but the noise cancellation and comfortable fit make it an excellent pair for exercise.

Read our full Liberty 4 NC review here.

Pros

  • Very impressive noise cancellation
  • Amazing value for money
  • Great sound quality

Cons

  • May often need to adjust how they sit
  • Sound
    5.0
  • Build
    4.5
  • Battery
    4.5
  • Value
    5.0
Frequency range20Hz - 40kHz
Battery10 hours alone, 50 hours with the charging case
Charging time4 hours
ConnectionBluetooth 5.3
Noise cancellationAdaptive noise cancellation 2.0
WaterproofingIPX4

Edifier alternative

Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2Edifier
Price: $129.99

Another step away from the Sleep A20 is the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2. One of our Senior Tech Writers and Reviewers, Chris Duffil, tested these. He found that they had a premium feel, were easy to use, and had a refined and well-balanced sound profile.

Read our full NeoBuds Pro 2 review here.

Pros

  • Impressive frequency range
  • Very rapid charging
  • Versatile sound profile

Cons

  • Could do with more touch control options
  • Sound
    4.0
  • Build
    4.5
  • Battery
    4.0
  • Value
    4.5
Frequency range20Hz - 40KHz
BatteryApprox. 4.5 hours alone, up to 22 with charging case
Charging timeApprox. 1 hour
ConnectionBluetooth 5.3
Noise cancellation-50dB ANC
WaterproofingIP54

Final thoughts

The Sleep A20 excels at its niche and stands out. Its technical specs are brilliant, with only the battery life falling behind. Even so, there's a case for using the Sleep A20 because of its versatility compared to a standard pair of earbuds.

The inclusion of several pairs of interchangeable buds is much appreciated and makes the entire package feel worth the money. The charging case comes in a great petite size that sells the idea of using the Sleep A20 for travel, and I definitely plan to take them with me the next time I book a flight.

Who is it for?

If you like to soothe yourself to sleep with white noise or music or even just want to block out the snoring of housemates, then I think you'll get a lot out of the Sleep A20. They're even a solid choice for those looking for a versatile and reliable pair. That said, if you're not going to use these for sleep, you're probably better off with a different model.

Would we recommend it?

Yes, with a few caveats. The Soundcore Sleep A20 is far from perfect, and in my experience, it wasn't easy to find the perfect fit with the buds. That said, the actual technical aspects are brilliant, and my ears are likely the outlier here. Sleep-focused earbuds may be niche, but the Sleep A20 is a solid choice if you're in the market for a pair.

Soundcore Sleep A20Soundcore
Price: $149.99

Pros

  • Great selection of interchangeable buds included
  • Fit flush to ears so side sleepers can still use them comfortably
  • Effective noise cancelling
  • Compact size makes them ideal for travel
  • Very reliable connection

Cons

  • So-so battery life without case
  • May struggle to fit the perfect fit
  • Sound
    4.5
  • Build
    4.0
  • Battery
    4.0
  • Value
    4.5
Frequency range20Hz - 20kHz
BatteryApprox. 10 hours with use, up to 80 hours with charging case
Charging timeApprox. 2 hours
ConnectionBluetooth 5.3
Noise cancellation4-Point Noise Masking System, Passive Noise Blocking twin-seal ear tips
WaterproofingIPX4

Kyle Purvesis a Tech Writer and Reviewer for What’s The Best, with an avid interest in all things gaming and tech.

They’re well-versed in reviewing a variety of tech products, with a soft spot for speakers and earphones. They’re also no stranger to hunting down the best savings, always wanting to get the best deal possible. Outside of work, they can often be found playing through an RPG, listening to Japanese noise rock, or trying to catch up with their ever-expanding list of shows and anime to watch. If possible, they try to play Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times a week, but getting six adults to be free at the same time is easier said than done.

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